What can we learn about climate change from Covid-19?

Doctor holding a globe with a protective mask

Is there any similarity between COVID-19 & climate change? Yes. Both are real & happening now. 

Both need a change in lifestyle and a call to action by the public. Like with COVID-19, many people still live in a state of denial that it cannot happen to them. This is despite the overwhelming amount of evidence. For those not experiencing its ill effects - there is almost an element of indifference. The media regularly reporting huge numbers of people congregating, despite strong advice not to. 

Climate change is very similar in that respect. Devastating natural disasters are increasing in frequency and well documented. Yet there is still an insufficient call to action by many people and governments. 

Cape Town (in South Africa) & Chennai (in India)  have run out of fresh water. There have been devastating fires in Australia. US coastal regions have experienced major flooding. Europe has experienced deadly heatwaves. 

These events should alert people to be more mindful about consumption habits and their impact on climate change. Yet it has not done so at a rate where meaningful results can be seen.

COVID-19 forced many governments to order lockdowns. They took this action to rein people in, and force them to behave responsibly. Many economies globally, both rich and poor, opted for this measure. This is despite knowing the economic disaster that they would face by grinding to a sudden halt. Many people suffered major financial hardship. 

Many developed nations have taken on huge amounts of debt to bail out their economies. For many of these countries, this debt is unaffordable. How this debt will be serviced and repaid is not a decision for today. Future generations will have to pick up the tab. It will be difficult for them to do so - and they are likely to experience significant financial hardship. 

Knowing all this, why is it that governments are taking such aggressive measures? The answer is – with COVID-19, danger is imminent. Almost every government sees the problem sitting right on their doorstep. The fear is there and forces them to be pro-active. 

The effects of climate change are also real. They pose an equal level of threat – if not more – compared to COVID-19. But it is not taken seriously yet for 3 major reasons: 

  • Powerful Influencers: There is lobbying by major and powerful companies in the fossil-fuel industry. They block attempts to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases. Often powerful companies dominate key sectors of the economy e.g. energy & agriculture. Some of them are also major players in dictating economic policies. For example, the pre-dominant use of GM cotton seeds in India. A handful of companies sell these. 
  • Psychology: Humans are not very good at processing the impact of tomorrow’s changes today. Climate science, and its impact on change, happens over longer time periods. This makes it difficult for most people to comprehend and fear the effects of tomorrow today. Plenty of research shows that a major water shortage has the potential to cause war & conflict. There is a theory that within 50 years we could lose the Amazonian Rainforest. It might sound like a grave situation - but it does not strike enough fear to motivate most people into taking action. These events are forecast to happen in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time – a time-frame most people cannot envision now. 
  • Politics: The voting public judge politicians on the impact their policies have on the prosperity of the economy. They (the public) see if there is any benefit in it for them. Adopting eco-friendly initiatives aggressively might benefit everyone in the long term. Such as reducing the carbon footprint significantly and making the use of green energy mandatory. But it is relatively expensive to adopt these initiatives. It would thus be unpopular among politicians & the wider public. Immediate gains - at the expense of long term consequences - are preferred. Short term sacrifices - in exchange for future benefits - are not.

The effects of climate change look likely to get more intense with the passage of time. This is if we can rely on research and science. Natural calamities can be catastrophic, affecting people mentally & physically. It can also be financially devastating to people and economies. Just because we cannot see events in the present - it does not mean that it cannot happen. 

However, adopting clean living and eco-friendly habits should not be done just out of fear. There should be a deeper understanding of why we all ought to do this. It is a way for all to re-connect with nature and tune in to our true selves. 

It’s about being respectful and compassionate to all living beings, whether human or other forms of life. It is about understanding that they, like us, also play an important role in the well-being of our planet. It is about being mindful of our consumption habits. It is understanding the impact our purchases have on the world’s resources, including the health and well-being of our fellow human beings. It is about choosing quality over quantity. Understanding that less is more.

All countries are united in the fight against COVID 19. The world came to a halt for a period of time. Everyone is sacrificing convenience. A heavy price is being paid in the short term in the of a better future. 

If climate change is similar in logic to COVID 19, shouldn’t we all be adopting the same stance? Buying better, which might not be more cost effective yet, but see the benefit in the long term? 

One way of doing so is to buy products made from 100% organic cotton. It contributes to the well-being of the planet. It also benefits the health and wellbeing of farmers. 

Buying organic cotton products is one aspect. Reducing consumption by choosing to buy good quality over quantity also helps. It goes a long way to reduce the impact of climate change through lower greenhouse gas emissions. It might cost more in the short term, but it pays dividends in the longer term. 

Ready to make the switch to living a more compassionate life?

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